News / Asia

    State Media Blames Kachin Rebels for Electricity Shortage in Burma

    Recruits of Kachin Independence Army undergo training in northern Burma (file photo).Recruits of Kachin Independence Army undergo training in northern Burma (file photo).
    x
    Recruits of Kachin Independence Army undergo training in northern Burma (file photo).
    Recruits of Kachin Independence Army undergo training in northern Burma (file photo).
    Daniel Schearf
    BANGKOK - Rare street protests of months of electricity cuts are being held in Burma’s second-largest city, Mandalay. Burma’s state media blames attacks by ethnic-Kachin rebels for worsening chronic power shortages.  

    Protesters gathered late Sunday in Mandalay, upset with power cuts that have left them with only several hours of electricity a day.  Hundreds of people held a peaceful candle-lit walk through the streets and outside the local electric authority, demanding regular supplies of power.

    Some reports quoted people upset with the government for selling power to China when it cannot meet its own people’s needs.

    Three out of four Burmese do not have access to electricity, despite the country’s huge oil, gas and hydropower resources, much of which is sold to neighbors Thailand and China.

    Monk U Wirathu took part in the demonstration and spoke to VOA’s Burmese Service.
    He says they protested because officials announced electricity would be distributed only six hours a day.  Previously, they were not limited to six hours, but electricity distribution was alternated either day or night.   
    Rangoon, the former capital, is also down to several hours of electricity a day.

    Burma’s state media blamed the rebel Kachin Independence Army for destroying part of a power grid in eastern Shan State.

    The New Light of Myanmar newspaper says KIA bomb blasts over the weekend destroyed four electricity towers, reducing power nation-wide by 200 megawatts.
    Colonel James Lum Dau is deputy of foreign affairs for the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization.  He denies their army would attack the electricity grid and said authorities are always blaming the KIA.

    "We are not going to do this kind of thing.  We have no policy [like this].  And, again, this is the area ... is not the area we are operating.  So that, I can deny that this is absolutely impossible," he said.

    The KIA could not be immediately reached for comment.

    Lum Dau said Burma soldiers have in recent weeks been moving in on the KIA’s headquarters in Laiza, near the Chinese border, leading to fierce clashes.
    Burma’s army and the KIA have been fighting since June, when they broke a 17-year cease-fire.  

    Protests are rare in Burma where the military crushed democracy uprisings in 1988 and 2007.  But since last year the nominally civilian government has ushered in reforms, including a law allowing peaceful protest.

    The Mandalay protesters failed to get permission for the demonstration, but authorities appear to be tolerating them.

    Burmese media reported the local electricity chief promised to quickly resolve the power shortage or he would resign.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora